This Pakistani Origin Man Could be the Next President of Singapore

Although he’s of Pakistani origin according to his identity card, Bourbon Offshore Pacific Asia Chairman Farid Khan announced his intention of contesting for the Presidency of Singapore in the upcoming September polls.

In short, Mr. Khan is hoping to become the next President of Singapore should he secure enough votes during election season.

The Bourbon executive is confident of qualifying as a Malay candidate as he was born in the Malay village of Geylang Serai. Even his family and relatives speak Malay and “practice the Malay culture”, not an uncommon occurence given the importance of it in the tiny yet prosperous Southeast Asian nation.

In a press conference held on Tuesday, July 11 at Village Hotel, Changi Farid Khan announced his bid as a candidate for presidential elections.

Mr Farid, 62, said:

I was born in the Malay village in Geylang Serai, the heart of the Malay community. And I adopted the Malay language, and when I studied in school, my second language was Malay… So, I’m very confident that I can be qualified as Malay.

Farid Khan (second from left) with his team members (from left) Borhan Sani, Sukumaran Suppiah, Jimmy Wee and Richard Yuen, after announcing his bid for the presidency on Tuesday 

On returning to the questions from the reporters, Farid Khan said that Malays in Singapore come from different ethnic backgrounds like Javanese and Boyanese. He sees himself as a Malay of Pakistani descent.

His Candidacy

Following amendments in the Presidential Election Act earlier this year to ensure that someone belonging from the minority can also become President, Mr. Farid Khan is the second individual to declare the intent of contesting as a Malay candidate. Mr Farid stated: “I wish to serve this nation which I feel capable of doing so to the best of my knowledge and ability.” He also added, “All my life I have been facing challenges, and this is one of the most exciting challenges I am going to go through.”

Farid Khan aims to strengthen “trust among the people regardless of race and religion, helping the needy, including our troubled youth” and “creating more opportunities” to enhance Singapore’s prosperity. He is determined to work in these domains with his government if elected.

Another criterion for the private candidates to contest in the presidential elections is that they must have run a company with at least $500 million in shareholder equity. Bourbon Asia Pacific reportedly has shareholder equity worth $300 million.

The Presidential Elections Committee, however, has the discretion to waive the criteria. Mr Farid is confident of qualifying in this area as he has a lifelong experience of dealing with people and making high-level decisions during his career. He is also a director of multiple other companies including Greenship Holdings, in the marine sector.

Mr Farid’s father passed away when he is just 13. The second eldest child of the family had to drop out of school to support his mother and a family of eight siblings. He supported his family by doing multiple odd jobs like working at a timber processing factory, cleaning toilets and as a car washer at night. Later he sought admission in Singapore Polytechnic at Marine Engineering course.

Mr Farid Khan with his wife after announcing his intention to stand up in the PE

 He is now married to Naeemah Shaikh Abu Bakar, 61 with two children, a 24 years old daughter and an 18 years old son. He has been working for Singapore-based Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific for over a decade now. The company has 800 workers in the region, is a a part of French based Bourbon, which has 9000 employees.

Unveiling his slogan Together We Build Our Nation, Mr Farid said he was stepping forward to “serve the nation”, and “fulfill the people’s wish and trust.”

Second Chance Properties CEO Mohamed Salleh Marican, 67, also showed the intention of standing for the PE, and Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob has also given the indication but her decision is not clearly known as yet.